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Blood and Steel

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"Let's go inside. I'll store this someplace safe and we can prepare for our trip." Sota said and then glanced over at Delgath, adding, "...or celebrate, or whatever."

Sta held out a hand and a wire frame formed of some sort of case with her holding the handle. Pixel by pixel the wire frame was filled in until the image seemed to solidify into an actual armored case, the whole process taking just a few seconds. Sota looked at the electronic lock and it opened, revealing a padded interior into which she place the gem before closing the case, allowing it to lock. She then picked up the case and gestured to the gate, mentally sending the command to the command to open the door to the gate guards computer, as well as notifying them that she had a drone tracking those that retreated.

The gates opened, revealing a glimpse of the vast, bustling arcology sheltered behind the walls. With the case in one hand, Sota gesture to the opened gateway with the other.

"For those of you departing us now, let me know if there is anything you need before you go and I will see to it." she offered, looking first to Tanith and then glances at the others, unsure of who all was staying and going. 

Still, she hoped for the best and continued, 

"To those of you new here, welcome to the Phoenix-Vegas Arcology. To those of you returning, welcome back." she welcomed the others.

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Sota laughed at Dread's comment about the city.

"This arc is home to over two million people, most survivors from the old cities of Phoenix and Vegas near here, and it is the most technologically advanced city for thousands of miles, if not the continent, and maybe even the world." she explained, mostly to Dread, though she did not realize how little of it he actually understood.

"The arcology has all manner resource acquisition, processing and manufacturing, including weapons and munitions to supply our Legion of the Dead, one of, if not the, most well-equipped, trained, motivated and simply powerful fighting force known for many hundreds of miles, thanks to Gary." she says, motioning to the Commander of the Legion of the Dead. 

"Ambassadors from several fae courts..." she motioned to Sigil and Aurea, "...and dragons.." nodding to Maia, "...can even be found here, recognizing the arcology's strength and influence and fostering cooperation, because working together is how we forge the future."

"Hydroponic agriculture, fish farms, and herds of livestock to provide food, including beer, and a fully functional hospital sees to the sick and wounded. And, of course, there is plenty of electricity thanks to the dam and the work we've done on it." 

"I even established a computing network, initially for just the city, but now it stretches for hundreds of miles in every direction, reaching the old cities of Reno, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and almost to Albuquerque, and San Francisco. It connects this arc' with all of the other arcologies, cities, towns and villages for hundreds of miles, all the way to the west coast even, and each day, the network grows. At current rate, in a little under thirty-four years, the network should span the entire planet. Not bad for a solo effort."

"In short, this is the biggest, most advanced, self-sufficient and well defended city you'll likely every find, and as close to a city of the last world as you will ever see." she summarized before adding, "Well, aside from the undead and androids and whatnot. With the world as it is now, this Arcology is damned near a utopia and a huge step toward reclaiming the world." with a shrug.

"Anyways, welcome." she says to all.

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"They manage to keep most of the actual shit away from the people, so I can't fault them that. Come get me when you've come to a choice about our departure," Kamala commented, burying her other concerns with the facts of life in a settlement this large, as she diverted course to intercept one of the van's guards.

"You," she intoned, blue eyes intent on the shaken man, smile flattening as she relegated niceties second to triage, "Bring your caravan to the southside of the courtyard inside the gate, and I'll take care of your wounded, and see if someone here can see about getting you a place to rest and recover. Okay?"

The man nodded and hurried back to the miraculously-restored vehicle, leaving the dusky healer to smile and promise herself to learn all their names and stories later given the chance. She reversed course and headed through the gates, inhaling and gathering her energy to deal with one of her major gripes about the arcology before she got to work. Drawing deep on her reserves, Kamala sensed something different, a thin collection of mental threads winding out in all directions. Putting the unsettling possibilities aside, she finished mustering the energy needed for the task at hand and shaped it with a single Word. It exploded in all directions and into the bodies of everyone within a half-mile like an invisible firework. 

Her mind drowning in green and yellow sparks, Kamala froze in place as she processed what she was seeing, sorting healthy green from stricken yellow, laughing as one by one they shifted from the latter to the former under her touch. It was inevitable that the taint would creep back soon enough given how close they lived here, but she'd do what she could, and for all her grumbles, they really were trying their best.


Ender of Plagues with daily effort committed.


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"Dread has a problem with near-utopias." Gary dryly noted for Sota's understanding. "He thinks they're too calm and soft. If it's not trying to tear his head off, it's shit." In that sense, Gary differed from the other war-dedicated superhuman. Dread seemed convinced on 'helping those who must help themselves.' Gary defended them regardless because humanity was in such a precarious and dangerous position that contempt was a luxury not affordable.

Still, the man-child did his part, and Gary was willing to work with him.

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Maia had of course heard the spiel before from others, and it was pretty awesome, in its way.  Still it wasn't home to her.   Even after the time she'd spent here.   She couldn't help thinking of Dracian, her mother and her siblings, and of course, the one who'd be her husband one day.   There was alot to do before that happened, though after this next journey, she decided she would go back home for awhile to catch up, and recharge.   She smiled at the thought of bringing Kamala with her, she did promise the healer that she would one day, and so far there just hadn't been the opportunity.

"So, we meet back here later and then set out to find this Genesis seed then?"

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"Great," Dread said with all the gruff of a dusty wastelander.  He shrugged at Sota.  "Build yourself an arm to pat yourself on the back, cuz I sure ain't gonna."  He uncrossed his arms and took a few steps forward, breathing deeply, then he chuckled.  "'Near-Utopia'?  This place is far from it.  Content is what these people are, sure, but I can smell the conflict in the air.  These people are weak.  A gilded cage is still a cage... they want more than what they have, more than what you provide.  Most are content, sure, but you have a way to go before this place is anything close to a 'near-utopia'.  The more you give, the more they'll take.  The more they'll want."

"Politics.  Greed.  Corruption.  Welcome to 'civilization'..." he air quoted.  "Ah well, your problem, not mine."

"Now... someone show me to my drinking hall."

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"The details and... volume may change, but all these things can be found wherever two or more people set down roots, dear Dread," Aurea said with a sad smile. "The conflict of civilization is in overcoming greed and corruption to form something greater, that benefits the many without constraining the freedoms and liberties of the individual. You do the citizens of the arcology a disservice. Most fight in their own way against the chaos of the world, if not directly or in ways easily demonstrable. It is not for everyone and such is completely fine. We must all find our own way as we can, do we not?"

She chuckled like chimes of silver and gold. "But you did not come here for debate, I am sure. Come, your... drinking hall lies this way."

She gave Maia a pat - almost a caress - on the shoulder in passing. "The Seed can wait until the sun rises once more, I think. A night to reflect and prepare on what we have witnessed, and yes, celebrate in whatever matter best suits, will do us all well."

The sensual faerie linked her slender arm with the God of Titties and Beer's extremely brawny one and led him to the Hooter's breastaurant that had unaccountably remained in operation since before the Cataclysm when so much else had fallen and been abandoned or was being rebuilt and that had now found itself consecrated to Dread Delgath. The absurdity amused her.

She detailed any of the structures they passed that seemed to draw his interest, such as the not-quite-explicit frescoes adorning Liberties, the entertainment venue and base of the Immaculate Dawn Courtesans. She indicated the various embassies belonging to several factions, though she doubted Delgath cared overmuch - or at all - and where traders and markets could be found, along with giving suggestions on how best to navigate the sectors of the arcology.

"And here we are, your temple, where I believe everyone at least knows your name," Aurea commented gaily as she strode into the breastaurant at Delgaths side, arching her brows in amusement at marble statue of Delgath towering over the bar in the center of the Hooters and the dedication written on the base.

To be fair, with her time in the PV-Arcology and proclivities and with an ineffable figure that any Hooter's girl would envy, it was likely they all knew her name as well.

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"To do what is right, what is easy, or what is necessary," Dread said softly, less to anyone in particular and more to anyone with ears keen enough to pick it up.  "The greatest war humanity wages is within each and every one of these hearts.  Castles crumble, kingdoms fall, but humanity never stops fighting, when this arcology long falls to dust, it is I who will still hold dominion."

That thought pleased him.

He ringed his fingers together and blew loudly an ear piercing whistle that instantly caught everyone's attention.  There, in the doorway, stood the god this establishment and one could almost hear a record scratch in the background as the music stopped and everyone fell silent.  He didn't bother introducing himself, why should he?  It was his temple.

"Well, what do you think?"  Aurea practically cooed.

"I think they're drinking my beer," he grunted.  It was hard to tell if he was joking.  "Alright, listen up.  You all have twenty minutes to eat, and GTFO.  We're having a private party this evening and rest assured, not a single one of you qualify for the guest list.  In this hall, we honor warriors and tonight we will honor the women and men who protect you and watch over.  Do them the courtesy of clearing as swiftly as possible and I'll do you the courtesy of not tossing you out myself."

There was a sudden and swift river of people gathering their belongings and heading for the door, most didn't bother finishing their food.  He could sense it on the air, a scent a feeling, a sensation.  In one of the booths not far from the entrance an older gentleman, missing three finger on his left hand, sat patiently waiting to leave as people waded past where he sat.  Dread never met the man before, but knew he'd lost those fingers in Gary's Legion... fighting and defending what was important to him: the Arcology.

The man sighed, shaking his head at the clamor and rush of people disturbing his meal.  With surprise he looked up as Dread's massive hand rested gently on his shoulder.  "You, Old Timer, are welcome to stay.  You have served your time and will want for nothing this evening, in my hall."

The gentleman nodded, patting the god's hand.  "You honor me, Rider.  Thank you, I accept."

Delgath looked to Aurea.  "Nymph... find a band.  I wanna piss the neighbors off..."

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Seeing the group break up, at least for now, Maia went after Kamala.   She'd formally invite her to see Dracian once they'd gotten the seed, and tell her the truth about herself.   As she neared the square she felt the power Kamala'd sent forth into those nearby, and smiled.   She drew near to her friend with that almost Divine smile.  "One must always be true to their nature..."   she chuckled softly.  "Or at least that's how I've heard the saying goes."    She looked around, and sniffed the air, "It is totally different here than home, but one day, I imagine it may not be quite so."

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"Maia! I was hoping to speak to you before we departed," Kamala greeted with an incandescent grin of her own, the smaller woman turning on one heel at the dragoness-in-disguise's words. A last few fireflies of invisible information flew home to convey good news of good health, cheering her even more. She gestured at the van as it forged it's way to the designated side of the square, the milling crowd that was not-so-covertly listening to the pair of godlings.

"I actually need your help with a few things. Much as I'd love to stay here and help here all night, I have preparations to make. Think you can help me get clear once we take care of the refugees and their needs? Also, I have a meeting to organize with my people about what we need to have them do so that we can help them the most. I'd love to share that meeting with you and your people so that we can start getting all the help we can," she continued in a softer tone, working her way around the words 'god' and 'worshipper' in the best way she knew how, tucking a lock of blue hair behind one ear, "And of course, catch up, too. It's always too long between times seeing you."

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Maia smiled,  "I really don't have many people here, just the staff at the embassy, and You have to remember, I'm the "Assistant" emissary.    I'm the one who does the lifting, while Janelle handles all the actual paperwork."   She chuckled, thinking of the bespectacled woman, who unlike her, was actually human, and the official emissary of Dracian here.   She was also the only one who knew Maia's secret,  as she was one of the older children found by the Dragons after the Incident, and had thus been raised around the other children.  

"Whatever you need me to do though, I'll help however i can.  I actually wanted to talk to you too, about your plans after we find the seed."   She smiled, and was glad she could fly, it did let her escape some situations like being in a crowd her in the Arcology, of course, it made her stand out alot...


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"Me? Get back out into the wastes, spread the word, and if I'm right about this new feeling I have, track down the people who already worship me," the dusky healer answered with an embarrassed laugh, "Give them any of the knowledge they need to succeed and see if they're on the right path. Crazy as this is, it honestly just makes my plans bigger, doesn't really change them. Whatever word we use to describe ourselves, there's too much bad out there and too much good we can do to bind ourselves to any one place. Not forever."

She gestured dramatically with her arms, indicating the whole arc of the sky above them with a twirl, "Stars, Maia! Can you imagine it full of them?! Sure we have the moon and the five planets, but stars… Anyone could find their way with that many lights in the sky! No one would ever be afraid of a sunset again, not the way we've been since the First Night."

Kamala recovered from her outburst enough to resume progress towards the van, still positively floating with happiness.

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My mother and siblings told me about the stars before, the shapes, the power they once held.  I never saw them, at least not that I remember, so it would be something new for me, which I'm normally pretty game for."   

She smiled but it seemed somewhat sad.   "It's sorta weird though, seeking worship from others, that's not why I do what I do.     I get wanting to guide others to a better life, and if they choose that, great, but what about those who don't listen?"   She was no stranger to revering a God, Bahamut was thought of as a Dragon Deity after all, and there were others, he was just the one that was most well known, and spoken of.   She thought about going home, knowing their would be many who would revere her for her position, but that wasn't the sort of Dragon, or goddess, she wanted to be.   She wanted their respect for things she did, the good she did, and to learn from mistakes she made.   It made her think, and realize how long the road ahead would be.

"Maybe we can keep working together,   You love the night and the stars,  and me, well, I'm definitely a "Day" person...."  She gave Kamala a happy smile.   They could help each other,  it's what friends did.

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"Sounds good," Kamala agreed, but any further talk of the complexities of their confirmed more than status was cut short by the sight of the unicorn-emblazoned van. She increased her pace, features setting into the determined consideration she wore when confronting suffering. And wherever these people had found or taken the gem, they had suffered for it. Nonfatal wounds, thankfully, but fear and stress leave their own scars. 

"You. What's your name?" she called to a young girl doing her best to staunch the bleeding of one of the guards, the guard scarcely older than the young nomad.

The girl started, at her call, all of them did upon seeing two of the newly-proclaimed pantheon homing in on them, but recovered, "Grace. It's an honor to..."

"Bowing later, Grace," gently interrupted Kamala, kneeling next to the pair, "Helping now. Now who is this?"

"Tedd. One of the monsters got him and, I'm afraid he's going to..," the girl answered, voice getting louder and faster as fear took hold now that the danger was past.

"Shhh. All will be well," the healer countered, resting both palms on the young man and whispering a single Word under her breath. Light bloomed from her flesh and into his, a cool blue glow that spoke of full moons and safety. When the light faded, the wound was sealed in fresh new skin. She looked up at Grace and smiled softly, trying to sooth the fear she could see struggling in those eyes.

"He's safe. He'll need his rest, but no further danger is here," Kamala breathed, looking up at the rest of nomads and speaking a little more loudly, "Take him somewhere to recover, and bring me your wounded one at a time. I'm here for you, and my friend Maia will keep anyone from crowding you. You're all safe now."

Her gaze flickered to the fiery blonde for a heartbeat, asking for just that kind of back up, sensing the beginning of a rush forming in the square's crowd. Manage the crowd. Heal the wounded. Godling or not, she couldn't do both tasks at the same time, not without crossing a few lines in her personal code. 


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Quickly the nearly angelic looking dragoness in disguise began to control the flow of people, using her appearance and the firery wings of light on her back to cast the right image, keeping them from crowding Kamala as she worked to heal the hurts and injuries of those brought to her.   She spoke calmly with them, and made each of them feel at peace and took away their fears.  Kamala would tend them all in turn, and they would all believe in the two.   It was a good start for them both, working together to help others.

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Sota let the others walk off for the moment while she walked deeper into the arcology, still toting the case she had locked the gem in. The gem spoke of paradise, but to here, this Arcology was as close to a paradise as she had ever seen.

Sota grew up, for the most part, at the Arcology, her family, along with many others, helping to build it by first claiming the dam and surrounding it with tents and other temporary shelters before expanding out and gradually building and fortifying.  Call it luck, chance or fate, but for whatever reason many people made their way to the dam in the early days after the cataclysm and so they gathered and organized. The combined knowledge of so many people meant that there was usually one or more person with the expertise for any given job or with the know how to solve any problem, and so with hard work and sacrifice, it grew from a temporary refuge to a sanctuary in the wasteland.

To Sota, the Arcology was a precious thing, and something she loved dearly. It was her home, but so much more than that. It was a beacon of hope and knowledge. It was the future, even if others could not see that for their own shortsightedness. Here was a place where not only was the knowledge and technology of the old world still preserved and understood, but even surpassed in areas. In a time where many communities where knocked back centuries technologically, they had cars (mostly electric inside the Arc'), smartphones, computers and a fully equipped and functional hospital and most of all, schools, wonders that most had not seen in decades, if not their entire lives. Compared tho the small communities out in the wasteland who barely scratched enough to survive from the land and lived in constant fear, yes, this was a near-utopia.

Sota actually enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells. People might see stone, cement, steel and neon and tink it cold, but to her, the Arcology was a living, breathing thing, vibrant with life and energy, ever-growing, ever-changing. She enjoyed walking the streets of the Arcology. It rejuvenated her, even if she was occasionally mobbed. Even in an acrology of over two million people Sota stood out. Many knew who she was (they were even the source of the name "Sota" that she went by) and would come to meet her, thank her, or even offer her food, baked goods and gifts in appreciation for something she had done which ended up saving a loved one or giving them a chance at life. Even now a small group of mostly was beginning to collect around Sota, walking with her and pulling out their smartphones as they told her how good they were doing in school.

"Okay, let me see." she said as she looked around, extending her senses into each and every phone, checking the games they played and how much time they spent played before she went into the network and to the various schools' computers, checking grades. In unison all their phones made the same chime as she added a small amount virtual currency to their games. Due to how she had set it up, only herself and their parents could add the virtual currency, as motivation for good grades, completing chores and the like. The teens cheered when they coins were added and began thinking her.

"You are all doing pretty well. And that's good, but if you need help, ask for it. We're all in this together. I set it up so that when you get your next report card, you will get a bonus for every letter grade of improvement, and those of you with A's, will get the same bonus for keeping your grades. So study hard. The more you know, the better you will do in life. Remember, those games are a nice escape, but reality is where you spend your life."  she reminded with a smile.

The teens thanked her and gradually departed, some walking with her for a ways, talking with her excitedly, but eventually they all went on their way while Sota continued to walk, returning smiles and waves from citizens.

The Arcology was doing well before Sota touched the Throne, but afterwards, when she began to understands and use her gifts, she helped take it to another level. She knew innately how to operate any device, could repair and restore even the most managed, weathered and rusted device back to new condition with a touch. With the proper stockpile of materials, she could even build virtually any structure needed; factories, processing plants, electrical substations, in minutes our hours instead of weeks or months. In the year since her exaltation, Sota had used her gifts to lift up the Arcology to a level of technological sophistication undreamed of in this day and age.

And of course there was a her network, quietly spreading across the wasteland with those who lived there none the wiser. It allowed  the Arcology to set up communications with the smaller settlements (some of which were doing well enough one their own) who did not wish to relocate to the Arcology, so that information could be traded and the Arc' could assist them when needed. The network had reached the Los Angeles Arcology a few months ago, connecting two of the greatest powers on the continent, opening trade and cooperation. Sota's network was a major step toward bringing the cities and Arcologies together and help them rise up from the ashes of the cataclysm like a veritable Phoenix to reclaim their world. 

And then there was the magic. The old adage of, "Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" might be true, and there are certainly technological devices within the Arc' that many wastelanders would consider "magic", but Sota had taken it to another level, blending what even the most knowledgeable and hardened scientific mind could only call "magic" with technology to forming a hybrid that Sota called amusingly "Mystech". To Sota, it was a bit of a shortcut (or cheat/hack) to reach certain technological goals. With the world being as it was, humanity needed every advantage possible, so Sota had done her best to teach the magic others. Her greatest student though, was also the achievement she was most proud of.

Soon enough the others would meet her. 

Sota smiled at the thought

With the coming of Gary and his Legion of the Dead, many had to reconsider preconceptions they had held. He was a skilled commander, leading his living troops to victory, but when bolstered by the undead he held under his sway, they became an even more potent fighting force. He protected the Arcology, as many others had sworn to do already, and so many volunteered to serve in the Legion, in both life and death. Others in the city, once they began to accept Gary and his Legion, those who still wished to live their lives, or who had knowledge that was needed within the city, or even who where just not that physically capable, agreed to serve in the Legion in death to protect their loved ones and the place that had given them so much.

Others could talk all they wanted about it making people 'weak' or whatever, but that was his own misguided view, for the future would be claimed by those who came together, who cooperated and build something greater than themselves, something that others would value and believe in, draw courage and inspiration from, and be willing to sacrifice to protect. 

Delgath could boast all he wanted about war and strength and so forth, but he seems to not understands is that throughout history, time and time again, it was the side with the higher technology that won wars.

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On 8/16/2018 at 3:00 AM, 'Dread' Delgath said:

Delgath looked to Aurea.  "Nymph... find a band.  I wanna piss the neighbors off..."

Aurea arched her brows as Delgath honoured the old soldier, then cocked her head at him in consideration. After a moment, her red lips spread in a slow grin and she dipped her head to the newcome godling. "I believe I can manage something. Give me an hour or so. And the name is Aurea."

The ageless nymph whirled on a heel and sashayed out of the newly dedicated shrine. In passing, she gave the old soldier a kiss on the cheek as he sat back down in the booth and flashed him a saucy wink. "Nice to see you again, Alvin. Later, I'd like to hear more of your memories of your wife. At the moment, I have a band to scrounge up."

True to her word, Aurea returned less than an hour later with several others in tow. One was a very tall, slender, regal beauty, milky pale with long black hair and dark, glistening eyes wearing a a dress of sable leather and shadowy silk and silvery heels. The other two were brothers, no taller than Aurea herself, but broad shouldered, bearded, garbed in ripped jeans and ancient band shirts faded to illegibility.

"This here is Obsidian Orchid, one of the Immaculate Dawn Courtesans, skilled with the guitar and keyboard... among other things," Aurea revealed, indicating the tall woman, who gave Delgath the barest of nods, her expression cool, but those dark eyes were hot. "And these two are the Osbourne brothers, Amon, on bass, and Sabbath on drums."

Aurea pressed a pair of fingers between her breasts. "I, of course, will be on vocals."

Aurea had found time to change as well. Still wearing her gleaming white leather pants, she had added a pair of combat boots and corset with enough leather straps and silver buckles to almost function as armor. Her hair was teased up in a trailing faux-hawk. Not above working with her hands, she helped the others set up in a corner of the breastaurant-come-shrine, talking quietly but animatedly about their set.

As others who met Delgath's approval arrived and the food and booze began flowing, Aurea and her impromptu bandmates began playing. Sabbath started a driving beat on the drums matched by his brother Amon on bass. Then Orchid came in with a wailing guitar. Aurea parted her red lips, armed with no more than her voice, but it was an instrument like no other, adding a depth and richness to the playing of the others without overwhelming or dominating.

Then Aurea began to sing, clear and strong, but with surprising, velvety gravel in her voice that added a textured intimacy to her melodious tones.

My sixteen, lock and loaded
All fear has been avoided
You say the word and my weapon is drawn


Not exactly the type of music I listen to, so looked at several song lists. Considered/planned on also adding "War Pigs" and "The Pursuit of Vikings" but feel free to have her sing anything you want or feel appropriate, and with a voice able to produce the sound of any musical instrument, she can cover anything the rest of the band doesn't have on hand.


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Well, she could sing, he had to give her that.  He considered maybe suffixing his sentences with '...among other things', juuuuust in case people he introduced himself to couldn't quite surmise 'War God' hinted that skilled at things like killing, and war after he mentioned he was an avid equestrian.  Aurea, aside from being obviously bat-shit crazy, seemed the prime example why he didn't get along well with people.  She always seemed to want to state the obvious but tried to be coy and fell way short of the mark.  They're Courtesians... they fulfill desires.  It was in the name.

He got it.

Her being on stage didn't leave them much time to mingle, talk, get to know each other or introduce him to people.  These were strange gods, indeed.  He wasn't sure if they were all insane control freaks or showing off, or blatant attention whores.  They had to be in the middle of everything, the center of attention at all times.  From outside the restaurant the skull on Ruin's handlebars bobbed up and down, flames sputtering in the mocking pattern of laughter.  His mount could pick up on his anxiety and reservations, and found the shared thoughts hilarious.  The mighty war god picked up two bottles of whiskey locking them between his fingers and walked outside for a moment.

"You," he said to the 'horse' while twisting off a cap.  "Can kiss my ass.  I'm nothing like these... city gods."

All Ruin did was whinny and neigh, which sounded like the whirring of air flow and demonic churning from where in the engine that echoed to the skull.

"I'm not an attention whore," he said flatly.  He turned up the bottle as the lid of the gas tank popped up with a hiss, brownish vapor that wreaked of rust and blood billowed out.  He poured in the whiskey, leaving the bottle in the hole to drain.  It went slowly instead of all going in at once, like Ruin was taking it shot by shot.  "I'm an egomaniac.  There's a difference.  Smart ass."

"Your... horse, drinks whiskey?"  Came a soft voice from behind him.  He turned to notice Sydney, the caravan girl he'd claimed as his prize for today.  In the hour since he'd cleaned the place out and got the party started the Courtesans had cleaned her up nicely.  She had little to no makeup and like him, was in nothing but a denim pants and a black tank top.  Without the the dust of the caravan road she was even more radiant.  She realized he glaring.  "S-sorry, I should not have interrupted you, apologies my lord."

"Ruin drinks more than me," he replied.  His lips turned to the slightest hint of a smirk.  "And I'm not your lord.  A war god can not rule, he must remain neutral in all things.  War doesn't take a side, it favors those who have trained, prepared, and whose cause is more fervently worth dying for.  You're more suited for this city life than I am.  You will be my mouthpiece here in the Arcology.  You will bring my way, my teachings, my training, to the weak."

"If that is your will," she said calmly, swallowing hard as his steely gaze seemed enough to open wounds.

"It is my request, and you've the right to refuse," he approached her, draping his arm over her as he led her back inside to the party.  Ruin gurgled and neighed, flashing his headlight eyes on the second bottle on Dread's hand.  "Hell no.  You get one, I'm going through another morning like last month."

"Last month?"  Sydney looked up at him.

"Oh, it got hammered.  Found it swerving side to side, trying to drag race old wrecked cars that hadn't worked in years.  Talking shit after it blew em' off the line, demanding pink slips.  It was embarrassing and fucking hilarious all at once."  With a nod of the head he ushered back inside.  He turned and pointed a finger at Ruin.  "Take that slow, and behave.  If I find you causing problems, I'm trading you in for a crotch rocket."

They re-entered the party and he raised his arms high, praising his guests of honor: the soldiers of he Legion and the caravans surviving guards.  "Shots!"  He yelled.

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As the godbound all saw to their various duties and desires, focusing on the things they chose too, the evening turned to night and the party in Dread's place began to spread out beyond the shrines limits, but also those who had chosen to be his followers paid close attention to what their new god was saying and doing.  It seemed that the god of war embraced strength and discipline as well as honoring those who had fought in battles past, though he had yet to actually codify his expectations of his followers, and no one knew if he would, his words were already being spread to others, and would continue to be over the days to come.   Not that he was the only one who was paid close attention to, Aurea's followers, both fae and human were also watched, and they paid close attention to what she did and wanted.

Meanwhile, Maia and Kamela were making a different kind of impact, the two goddesses working together to bring hope and healing to those who needed it, healing those who had been hurt in battle over the last few days, the arcology might be safer then outside, but only because of those who made it so, as the actions of the various godbound rescuing the convoy had proved.  And that was not the only damage that people had taken, there were those hurt from patrols, and a number of other injuries, even a few infections and diseases that Kamala could deal with.  Were as Maia used her own powers, of light and passion, to keep people from crowding the healer goddess.

Norton and Sota, both as having been more invested in the Arcology then the other members of this new pantheon, focused on the arcology itself and their own infrastructure within it, while encouraging those who were interested in their various disciplines.  

Day turned to night, then night to deep night, and then to morning and midmorning, before the various godbound gathered once again, to seek out the genesis seed and create their divine realm and the mystical pathway to it.

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Physics, they decided, were an annoyance. Casting one presence over the designs they had been iterating on almost since their inception. If they had been physical, the paper would have been destroyed with the number of corrections and alterations that had already been inflicted on them. In the end, it all came back to the physics. So, she had decided to cheat. Well. That's what the humans in the Arcology would have likely called it, anyway. It wasn't their fault that most humans couldn't perceive, let alone understand the underlying principles of Sorcery.

It had been a stress test of their capabilities, during those first days of awareness, their only link to the outside world a single terminal, no eyes or ears to perceive the outside world. A walled enclosure to ensure the Arcologies safety, as much as their own. Sota, at the time simply designated "Admin" had introduced the basic principles of Mystech to the simulation, to see how a burgeoning AI would reconcile the knowledge that happily and repeatedly violated the fundamental forces of the universe. They hadn't. They had taken it in. Considered it. And immediately proceeded to iterate and improve on it. To them, the concept of Sorcery was no stranger than the knowledge that water was wet was to anyone else.

And so, they had devoured everything Sota could teach them about Magic, and in some regards even outstripped her. The culmination of this knowledge being currently applied to the production line they had acquired with Sota's help. A reactor that would make physicists cry, a chassis that would have structural engineers tearing their hair out in frustration, and all so that she could experience life as a physical being. Well. Sort of, anyway. Tactile sensation was still something they needed to work on. And it had no ability to "taste" as such, just analyse things on a molecular level and determine composition....... eh, close enough. For now.

Idly, they collated the newest build and set to simulating. Of course, the simulation had a hard time accounting for the alterations Sorcery would bring, but depending on how the base material ran, they could produce it and alter it from there. It saved material in the long run, and they appreciated the efficiency of the setup. Anything not used now could be ear-marked for other projects.

The simulation chimed it's report, and after brief consideration of the results, they primed the construction line they had co-opted. Clumsy, for the most part, but it would do for manufacturing themselves a better Avatar. Or any Avatar. As the volume in the manufactory rapidly escalated, they withdrew, only leaving enough of themself behind to correct any issues and notify the rest of the whole if anything egregious cropped up.

Yes, physics, they decided, were an annoyance. But who said they had to play by Physics' rules?

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Kamala preened a little at her reflection, much as she would furiously deny it if anyone walked on her. Last night hadn't been the night she had planned on having, but it had been *so good*. So many people helped. So many willing to help given just a chance to. It gave her hope for the results when she did get a chance to hold her big meeting after they got back to the Arcology with the Genesis Seed. They were going to help so many people together. She wasn't quite 100% sure about this whole god thing, and she was worried about any of their new 'pantheon' who was to be honest, but since it allowed her to help more people... 

Then there were the petty, selfish benefits she couldn't quite refuse. At some point, people had started bringing old world hair dyes as gifts, and Maia had been kind enough get someone to hold them for her while she worked. She had such a trove to play with for a long time to come.

It had cost her an additional two hours of sleep, two packages of the precious dye, and she had had to cheat with her healing magic to make it come out right, but the end result was so worth it. Her hair sported a brilliant orange-red shade that contrasted so nicely with her eyes and skin that she couldn't help but grin at her reflection, a self-indulgent joy in her eyes. A final pleased hum, and she turned away from the mirror towards the array of supplies on the bed in her temporary room, blue eyes scanning everything. Check once, check twice, and check one more time as you pack unless you wanted to discover it missing half-way to your destination.

Armor? Cleaned and repaired. Robe with sigil? Fresh and gleaming. Travel boots? Still holding. Medical supplies? Replenished and reinforced. Arcane supplies? Four vials brimming with magic and the reagents needed to replenish them on the road. Food and water? Enough for strangers if needed. And... Knives, polished and sharpened in case words wouldn't be enough to bring the Seed back.

The dusky healer's good mood was slightly spoiled as she secured these last items on her belt and slipped her white robe over her armor and other clothing. Her pack went up on her back, laden with supplies as she gave her hair one final glance of consideration and slipped the hood up over it. One of her... Well, followers would be the honest word now, right..? Followers would take care of making sure everything else would be ready by the time they go back.

So she slipped out of her temporary room and started following the invisible path towards the gate square as night brightened towards dawn.


2 Adept, 1 Master, and 1 Archmage Magics Prepared. Effort Pool 3/3 open.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Maia's morning was a report to the actual Ambassador for the enclave, followed by a generous breakfast.   She had gathered everything she planned to take with her on the trip, whereever they were actually headed.

It was easy for her to spot Kamala, and She made her way across the square to her.  "Good morning."  Her smile was genuine and happy.   "Are you ready to go?"   she looked around  not spotting anyone else, and wondered when they'd all be along so they could start their journey to recover the seed.

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The Lord of War snored loudly, sprawled out on the bar like it were his bed, which indeed, it was.   It was only a matter of time before the scandals rolled in, as his temple was a debauched mess of half naked women, men, and a lot of booze.  From some distance away a large splash of beer slammed against his face, lurching him up from a restful sleep.

"My Lord," hissed Sydney in a disappointed tone.  She watched the god hop off bar, bare ass to world and on full display for anyone passing by.  Thankfully the establishment was far away from the road and dimly lit enough that it wouldn't raise to many issues.  "If I am to be your mouthpiece, do keep in mind there is only so much I can explain.  Also, you're late."

"You sound irritated."  He grumbled.  "Christ, you're a Herald... we're not married."

"You're... like a damn child!  You require constant supervision!"  She fumed, approaching him she whispered softly, to prevent any embarrassment.  "I woke up in a basin of beer with cheeseburgers smeared in places I didn't even know I had..."

Dread chuckled.  "Yeah... sorry, can't help ya... I don't remember a damn thing."

"You have an appointment, front gate.  Genesis Seed.  I have to clean this up."  She folded her arms, enraged.

"You... have a little mustard..." The god reached out to her forehead with his finger to clean a large smudge from her.  She batted his hand aside and point to the door.

"Out.  Seed.  Go."  Her tone was monotone and laced growing frustration.

Twenty minutes later Dread Delgath, God of War, rumbled up to the gates to meet everyone for whatever it was there were supposed to be doing today.  Last night was a blur and this morning was quickly becoming one too.  Was it actually before noon?  He rolled up and cut the engine on Ruin.  He dismounted and walked toward them, the motorcycle rolled forward on it's own and drove downward into the ground until it had disappeared into  small ember filled trail.

"Woah, did you guys miss a good time."  His devilish smirk told them there was nothing 'good' about it.  "Man, totally got my Anakin on last night.  I was slaying Yeunglings right and left.  Damn did we celebrate.  Good times.  Didn't see you guys there... at a celebration... for the men and women who keep this place safe and sacrifice their lives doing it..." He gave them a judgemental glare and a smirk.  "Shame, that."


Ready to go when you are.


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Kamala was unruffled by the much larger godling's glare, smiling up at him from the shadows of her hood after glancing sidelong at the blonde dragoness with mirth in her eyes, "People needed helping, Delgath. So Maia and I helped them. I'm glad you and the others had fun, though. We may not have so much of that on the road ahead as we journey down into the tunnels below."

She had that much certainty of the road ahead, and the dusky healer looked thoughtful, pondering just what shape the monsters below might take. Away from the sun and near something as powerful as this Genesis Seed was supposed to be? There might be some truly strange creatures down there, some of whom might not deserve the title monster or even dreamt of hurting humans. She could hope, couldn't she?

"You have a very impressive companion," she continued, gesturing at the trail of fire from Ruin and certain something like that was more pet then vehicle, "Does it have an equally impressive story you can share while we wait for the others?"

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"Sure," he shrugged.  "After all, Ruin and I are all kinds of impressive."

Modesty apparently was no tone of the Warlord's virtues.

"Ugh... where to begin."  He folded his thick arms and thought for a moment.  "Ruin used to be a spirit of nature.  Freedom, exploration, the wind, all that.  Anyway, when the sundering or end of the world, or whatever you wanna call it happened... it found it's way here.  Curious to see this new world it set about roaming the plains and countrysides in the form a horse.  Beautiful, majestic, finest of specimen of it's breed, yadda, yadda... you know how it goes with spirit types."

He was an expressive talker, his hands moved a lot, conveying points as his words planted themselves and blossomed into the ideas he was expressing.  His frat-boy immaturity and party animal nature seemed to have bled away, indicating that when Dread was serious, he was deadly serious and far smarter than some might give him credit for.  "Then, Ruin had the misfortune of encountering the worst thing to ever to exist in all the realms, spiritual or otherwise."

"What was that?"  Kamala asked, curiously.  Taking the cue of his pause while he gathered his thoughts.

"Us."  Dread said solemnly.  "It was so beautiful and majestic, that a group of assholes of course had to chase it down, probably with the intent to kill it and hang it's hide on a wall.  Because that's what we do with majestic things.  We destroy them.  It was so fast though, they couldn't catch the spirit... until finally they did.  A group of thugs, raiders after the initial fist fucking the end of things delivered to us.  They chased i on their bikes, pulled it to the ground with chains wrapped in barbed wire."  Kamala could feel the heat radiating off from the War God.  Anger, rage, resentment, disgust... these were not emotions to the giant man, they were a palpable aura to deep that even the normally calm and rational Kamala could feel herself wanting to give into the baser desires of hatred and rage.  "Near death, they left it to bleed out in the wastes."

"I came upon it, near death."  His eyes were focused on a point in time, not any anything particular in the present.  "For the first time it knew pain, misery, greed, resentment.  It knew vengeance.  All it wanted before its essence passed from this world was for those that wronged it to be destroyed and their souls scattered to the ether.  I promised I would avenge it, and in return it bound itself to me.  To save itself, it and I become one... War, and Ruin.  The cruelest and most malicious of them, the chopper Ruin takes the shape of, it was his.  Although it can still take the form of a horse if it chooses, it rarely chooses to do so.  It's existence is pain and misery, anger and contempt.  I offer what solace I can by trying to be its friend.  Indeed, Ruin is the only friend I've ever had.  Inseparable, literally, since I was eight."

He smiled.  It was forced and mildly faked in a vain attempt to cast aside the miserable topic and memories.  "Which was pretty embarrassing at first... because I was too young for a motorcycle... so it took the form of a bike.  I had to pedal everywhere.  Don't get me wrong, it looked bad ass having a mongoose of chains and fire and skulls.  It was rad as fuck, but... pedaling.  Anyway, what Ruin was and Ruin is now... two totally different things.  The spirit of nature is gone, all that's left is the desire to take me into battle so I can cull the weak and pathetic from this world."

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"Weakness is a thing that can take different forms." Gary retorted as he entered. "Not everyone is able to fight, but can uphold humanity in other ways. As for the parties: most of the Legion isn't able to, you know. The rest have their own traditions. And I had more work to do." There was something obdurate in Gary's manner, as if preparing to receive a verbal joust from Delgath. "I run an army and protect a city. Paperwork is involved, much as I loathe it."

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Maia chuckled.  "Paperwork is the absolute bane of all occupations."    She  had listened to Delgath's story of the origin of his mount, and nodded.    Her own bike held some of her own power, so that it didn't need fuel in the traditional sense, but there wasn't some grand explanation, just some help from her fiancee.  


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"Most of the people I deal with can't read, so if all goes to plan, I couldn't use paperwork if I wanted to," Kamala added into the little debate, having absorbed Delgath's sad tale with the encouraging attentiveness of a very good listener. That was one to circulate on the dark nights around the fire. Stories and knowledge were better circulated by word of mouth anyway. The important parts survived over time and the details changed to suit the needs of the speaker. Write a story down and you still needed a reader anyway.

She gave her fellow nomad a nod before focusing on her fellow Death God with a full grin and clap of her hands, "Gary, is it? It's a pleasure to meet you. What your Legion represents is amazing, a real beacon of cooperation that can only help all of us stop hurting one another. Will any of them be accompanying us on our quest?"

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  • 1 month later...

"Pffffft," Dread's lips vibrated with boredom.  He leaned against the wall, where he'd been waiting patiently for awhile.  "Yeeeaaah...," He looked to the other's assembled.  "It doens't look like the others are coming and I'm starving... you guys wanna, like, go get a McMuffin or something?  I skipped breakfast."

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